Digital & Social Media

Are Commercials Still the MVP of Super Bowl Engagement?

Are Commercials Still the MVP of Super Bowl Engagement?

They make us laugh. Or cry. Or sometimes we just scratch our heads in confusion. No matter what they make us do, though, a Super Bowl commercial commands the audience’s attention.

However, gone are the days when a 30-second spot of brilliance was unveiled on football’s greatest stage. Today, people have watched most commercials days, even weeks, before they air. So brands face greater pressure to reach consumers in unique, creative ways during the big game.

To get a sense of consumers’ views on the various forms of engagement brands are using leading up to and during the Super Bowl, FleishmanHillard TRUE surveyed 500 U.S. adults.

The Super “Social” Bowl
On average, people plan on spending half of the game interacting with social media. In fact, 38 percent of consumers plan to interact with social media for at least three-quarters of the Super Bowl, and 15 percent will be interacting with social media for the entire game.

But does this mean people plan on spending more time on social media this year compared with last year? For the majority of people, the answer is yes. Only 6 percent of respondents said they would engage on social media less this year.


Viewers Are Interested in Engaging With Brands During This Time
Interest in social media during the game goes beyond reading friends’ commentary. A majority (56 percent) of respondents showed interest (4 or 5 out of 5-point scale) in engaging with a brand during the Super Bowl.


Previews, Early Releases Don’t Diminish In-Game Ads
With commercials often being made public long before they air during the Super Bowl, some might think viewers are less inclined to pay attention to the commercials during the game. However, 41 percent of consumers still watch in-game commercials that are shared socially before the Super Bowl – but 36 percent indicate a reduced level of excitement. Only 13 percent are less likely to pay attention during the Super Bowl as a result of seeing commercials online before the game.


Ads Drive Engagement – And Purchase Decisions
People will be active on social media during the game. And many of them are interested in interacting with a brand on social channels. But commercials still play a dominant role. While interaction is desired, a brand’s heavy commercial presence (in this survey, defined as three commercials) is considered the best method of engagement by a majority (54 percent) of consumers. However, for brands on a tight budget, there are less costly options: 40 percent believe that a company that runs one commercial accompanied by a social interaction (call to social action or hashtag) does the best job of engagement.


Brands love engagement, but ultimately, it comes down to the bottom line. With regard to influencing purchase decisions, commercials have a large edge (71 percent) over straight social media engagement. Then again, with 29 percent of respondents saying creative posts on social media are more influential – and let’s not forget much cheaper – it would be no surprise to see an increase in brand activity on social media during the Super Bowl.